Circle the No. 28 for the Minnesota Twins.
Circle it, frame it, hang it up on a wall at Target Field.
No Twins player ever will wear 28 again, now that the club has announced its retirement in honor of Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven.
Blyleven becomes the sixth Twins player to have his number retired, joining Harmon Killebrew (No. 3), Rod Carew (No. 29), Tony Oliva (No. 6), Kent Hrbek (No. 14) and Kirby Puckett (No. 34).
This is a happy day for Blyleven and his fans, who still must be coasting from Bert's election to baseball's Hall of Fame earlier this month.
Not to be all Johnny Raindrops ... but what took the Twins so long to do this?
Was the club waiting for the Hall of Fame to circle Bert? If so, it's a new policy; not all of the Twins with retired numbers are in the Hall, and those who are didn't have to wait.
It couldn't have hurt Blyleven's ridiculously protracted admittance into the Hall if the Twins had retired his jersey 10 or 15 years ago.
He's had it coming that long.
Blyleven is the club's career leader in complete games, shutouts and strikeouts. He's second in victories and innings pitched and fifth in ERA.
His tenure with the Twins is described like this by Kelly Thesier of MLB.com:
While Blyleven pitched for five different teams over the course of his 22-year career, there is no question that he's most strongly associated with the Twins — having pitched for the club in two separate stints (1970-76, 1985-88).
Having served as one of the club's television broadcasters since 1995, Blyleven has cemented himself among the most beloved figures within the Twins' organization.
Seriously, this is long overdue.
Checking the comments of Blyleven stories on MLB.com and elsewhere, some Twins fans agree. Others point out the team also should retire Jim Kaat's No. 36. Based on his accomplishments — and the fact Kaat's probably not ever going to have the honor of being added to Cooperstown — it's a great idea. He's probably going to have to wait for No. 36 Joe Nathan(notes) to move on, though. At least that long.
Another trouble with Kaat is, he doesn't work for the team anymore like Blyleven, whose mere existence has provided a reminder of his playing days. So, does this mean that Blyleven's number would still be up for grabs if he wasn't an icon announcer in Minnesota? Probably so.
Someday, somebody will figure out why there's a layer of disrespect covering people's opinions of Bert Blyleven.
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